The Importance of Outdoor Play for Children

7th June 2017

I was shocked recently to find out that there are more than 1,000 children being referred to hospital due to obesity. According to playground equipment supplier ESP, one in three children between 2-10 years old are overweight.

Further research by Liverpool John Moores University found that the average amount of exercise a child does during school PE lessons was low, and 68% of the lesson is spent with the child being stationary.

My son is in his first year at primary school so to see these results is a worry for me. I was always overweight at school because I preferred exercising my brain to my body, and I do regret this to an extent. I want my son to have a good balance of physical and mental exercise, to keep him healthy and hopefully to keep any possible hereditary depression at bay.

I’m currently the Chair of a voluntary group who are trying to improve our local park, because in the area I live it’s the only park we have and all the equipment is rotten or broken. I have to take my son out of area to go to another park which means we don’t go as often as I would like.

Our Rundown Park

I want my son to be able to walk to his local park and run off all his energy, and unfortunately the council is under debt and stress and will not improve the park. I don’t agree with their budget choices because parks are brilliant for free exercise for families. It also stops a lot of the older children getting bored and starting to wander around the estate doing things that can be seen as anti-social behaviour.

We are fundraising at the moment, but it is a long road as renovating an entire park can cost at least £50,000. We are a tiny group of mums who have no experience in fundraising, but we are trying our best.

During our work I have spent a lot of time looking at playground equipment with the aim to find sustainable, easy to maintain equipment that the children will be able to use actively. I don’t want just swings where they will sit. I want boulders they can climb on, ropes, hills and anything that will develop their fine motor skills, balance and make them sweat.

I want wooden equipment like this for our park

I’m a fan of equipment that doesn’t look plastic, and I particularly like the wooden, more natural pieces. I’ve noticed some of the most simple equipment can be the most used by kids, including balance beams and even games painted onto the ground.

I remember spending a long time playing hopscotch at school which was just a few chalked lines on the floor.

I’m scared for my son as our country does have a crisis with health. More of us are overweight, and the government is constantly cutting back in areas such as parks, schools and health which doesn’t help us parents trying to keep our children healthy. Schools need more funding, not less, so they can improve their playground equipment, increase their after-school sports clubs and increase their ability to provide a larger range of outdoor play.

If any of you are also trying to fundraise for parks to help children stay healthy, let me know so I can share it via my social media as I know how hard it can be to spread the word!

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are honest and my own. 

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